SIR; The article by Liz Hamson on the Friends of the Earth planning submission was a useful and interesting contribution to the debate. However I cannot allow two arguments to go unchallenged.

Firstly, the contention by a "disgruntled source close to Tesco" that FOE and other opponents are "not interested in a sensible debate at all" is? laughable.

Th??e company''s representative, Mr Skilbeck, ?threatened elected councillors in a formal planning committee in Stockport with the prospect that they would be opposed at any expense, and up to the highest court in the land, should they dare to thwart Tesco's application for retrospective planning permission for a store they had "accidentally" built 20% too large.

?He then said that if that did not work Tesco would throw the entire workforce in Stockport, some 500 people, out of work rather than accept a result? that did not go their way.

Hardly surprisingly the council felt it had no alternative but to grant despite a? ?minute abhorring Tesco's actions in this case.

Secondly, Mr Stockdale's comments on the FOE case can hardly be considered impartial. Many planning consultancies owe their very existence to the need of the multiples to justify the unjustifiable in their efforts to steamroller ?planning authorities.

These consultancies are employed to present statistics in such a way as to persuade councils that no reasonable person could possibly refuse their client's application.

The sheer weight of these reports? is designed to intimidate any opposition with more limited resources.

The chances of such consultancies having anything good to say about FOE are slim to say the least.

It is to the great credit of FOE that with a tiny fraction of the resources available to the major multiples,? they have put together such a strong submission and they should take great pride in the increasingly successful local campaigns such as that in Darlington.